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Israel forces Palestinian to demolish Jerusalem home that's 'too close to US embassy'

Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967 [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 October, 2019

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A Palestinian resident in occupied East Jerusalem was forced to demolish his home after Israeli authorities deemed it too close to the US embassy.
A Palestinian in occupied East Jerusalem was forced to demolish his own home because it was too close to the United States embassy.

Sultan Bashir, a resident of East Jerusalem's Jabal al-Mukabbir neighbourhood, pulled down his own home on Tuesday after he was sent a demolition order by Israel last month, local Palestinian officials said.

If he refused to follow Israeli orders, the West Jerusalem municipality would have demolished the house instead and charged him an extortionate amount fines for not complying.

The Palestine Brief: 50 years after they burned al-Aqsa

In late 2017, US President Donald Trump sparked a deterioration in relations between Washington and the Palestinian authorities when he recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital and declared he would be relocating the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the contested city.

The move sparked anger across the world and led to weeks of global protests in solidarity with Palestine.

Moving an embassy to Jerusalem is highly contentious.

Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, while Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Traditionally, most diplomatic missions in Israel have been in Tel Aviv as countries maintained a neutral stance over the status of Jerusalem.

52 years of illegal occupation

Israel has occupied the West Bank illegally since 1967, committing various crimes against Palestinian civilians.

More than 600,000 Israeli Jews live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, in constructions considered illegal under international law.

Often, Israel forces Palestinians to demolish their own homes under the pretext of not having a building permit.

Applications for building permits are also known to take years to be processed, giving Israeli courts a loophole to increase Palestinian home demolitions by branding structures as "illegal".

Four out of five of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem live under the poverty line, and applying for building permits comes with various taxes and fees amounting to tens of thousands of dollars.

Between 2010 and 2014, only 1.5 percent of all Palestinian building permit applications across the occupied West Bank were approved by Israel, according to the UN.

The cost of a permit for a single home is estimated to be in the region of $30,000.

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